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Vetiver's Andy Cabic: Five Essential Albums

Vetiver's Andy Cabic (photo by Terri Loewenthal)

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Andy Cabic has long looked to San Francisco as his songwriting muse and as leader of the mutable collective Vetiver, he's long spun the eclectic flavor of that city into the fabric of the band's albums. On Vetiver's sixth album Complete Strangers, released in late March via Easy Sound, there's a hazy, summery vibe that drifts from track to track, as on the breezy "Current Carry" and the effervescent and twangy "Loose Ends."

Arrangements play a key role in the evolution of any Vetiver album and Cabic has worked for years with co-producer Thom Monahan, structuring the architecture of each song before rounding up the group's always-changing roster of musicians into the studio. Ahead of the band's busy tour schedule this year, The Alternate Side asked Andy Cabic for his Five Essential Albums. Through Cabic's choices, from the warm grooves of Shuggie Otis to the thoughtful arrangements of Nick DeCaro, it's possible to divine just what Cabic has in mind for Vetiver too.

Vetiver's Andy Cabic: Five Essential Albums

1. Nick DeCaro, Italian Graffiti
Nick DeCaro was one of the best and most sought after arrangers in the music industry, working with everyone from Barbara Streisand to Leon Russell. His finest work as a solo artist is Italian Graffiti, a smooth mix of his own songs and favorites by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Todd Rundgren, and others. Nick’s voice is unique, personal and a source of inspiration to me. An influential and underappreciated gem.

2. Dorothy Ashby, Afro-Harping
A wonderful album that grooves and soothes. Versatile harpist Dorothy Ashby collides with the great arranger Richard Evans on this essential Cadet release. By turns trippy and elegant, funky and tranquil, Dorothy handles classic hit parade tunes and beautiful compositions of her own with a masterful touch.

3. Shuggie Otis, Inspiration Information
One of the greatest albums ever. Never leaves my DJ bag! A tune for every occasion. It blows my mind to think Shuggie wrote, recorded and played nearly all the instruments on this himself when he was 20 years old! A truly special album I never get tired of and appreciate more with every listen.

4. João Donato, Quem e Quem
A sunny delight of an album by one of the world's great keyboardists and arrangers. João Donato broke new ground with this release introducing us to his wonderfully mellow and relaxed vocal style, in addition to his grooving arrangements and irresistible melodies. The soundtrack to many a happy moment in my life.

5. Slapp Happy, Slapp Happy (Casablanca Moon)
One of the only albums I can think of that was re-recorded entirely with different arrangements and musicians, with both versions eventually seeing release. Acnalbasac Noom is the precursor, recorded with members of Faust, and is in many respects equal or better than Casablanca Moon. An arty masterpiece featuring the inimitable vocals of Dagmar Krause and the bent and beautiful songs of Anthony Moore and Peter Blegvad.